Who Were the Giants? | Tomorrow’s World Questions and Answers — July/August 2024

Who Were the Giants?

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People often wonder about the origins of the mysterious biblical giants, like the Nephilim and the “sons of Anak,” but does scripture really say they were anything more than human beings, after all?

Question: In a few places, the Bible mentions “giants,” like Goliath. Who—or what—were they? Were they human beings, or were they something different? Do they still exist?

Answer: The Bible tells us that people of giant physical stature lived both before and after the great Flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6:4; Deuteronomy 2:10–12, 20–23). After the Flood, giants appear in the Bible as descendants of Ham’s son Canaan; they were living in the land of Canaan when Moses sent agents to spy out the land (Genesis 10:6; Numbers 13:1–2, 32–33).

Og, King of Bashan, was the last recorded giant east of the Jordan River (Joshua 12:4; 13:12). After Joshua’s conquest of Canaan (Joshua 11:21–22), a few giants continued living in the Philistine cities of Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. These giants terrorized the Israelites from the time they entered into Canaan until late in the reign of King David. One of those giants was Goliath, whom David killed (1 Samuel 17). King David and his “mighty men” also encountered other giants (2 Samuel 21:16–22;1 Chronicles 20:4–8).

Some point to a passage in Genesis to suggest that these giants were the offspring of angels who procreated with human women: “Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose” (Genesis 6:1–2).

However, it is important to recognize that although God sometimes does call angels His sons (Job 38:7), the Genesis 6 description of “sons of God” cannot refer to angels, because angels were created as spirit beings. Each angel was brought into individual existence complete, without the need or the ability to reproduce.

As spirit beings, angels cannot procreate with human beings. We know this from Jesus Christ’s own words, as He described what happens when mortal human beings are born as spirit beings at the resurrection: “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection’” (Luke 20:34–36; cf. Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25).

Giants Were Human Beings—Just Bigger

Only God the Son, who has all creative power, has ever crossed the gap between spirit and flesh, which He did when He was born as Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:7). In fact, to say that an angel can produce a child in the world is potentially blasphemous, since the Bible describes only God as producing a Son through the miraculous pregnancy of Mary, as well as a future family of sons through the Work He and His Son are doing in the Church that Christ founded (Luke 1:35; Romans 8:16–17).

Who, then, were the sons of God mentioned in Genesis 6? They were powerful and famous men whose offspring, before the Noachian Flood, became famous in their time. Many Bible scholars believe that they could have been among the offspring of Seth, but Scripture does not tell us specifically. Another important detail we should notice is that Scripture does not say that the giants originated from the unions described in Genesis 6; rather, the giants already existed at that time. “There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them” (Genesis 6:4).

These giants did not survive the Noachian Flood. The existence of other giants was noted after the Flood, but even they disappear from the biblical accounts after the time of King David. In any case, Scripture gives no indication that these giants were anything other than large human beings who will share in the same ultimate destiny as all other human beings.


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